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An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Director:

John Landis

Writer:

John Landis
Reviews
Popularity
2,088 ( 37)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Belcher ... Truck Driver
David Naughton ... David Kessler
Griffin Dunne ... Jack Goodman
David Schofield ... Dart Player
Brian Glover ... Chess Player
Lila Kaye ... Barmaid
Rik Mayall ... 2nd Chess Player
Sean Baker Sean Baker ... 2nd Dart Player
Paddy Ryan Paddy Ryan ... First Werewolf
Jenny Agutter ... Nurse Alex Price
Anne-Marie Davies Anne-Marie Davies ... Nurse Susan Gallagher
John Woodvine ... Dr. J. S. Hirsch
Frank Oz ... Mr. Collins / Miss Piggy
Don McKillop Don McKillop ... Inspector Villiers
Paul Kember Paul Kember ... Sergeant McManus
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Storyline

Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The monster movie See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 August 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

En amerikansk varulv i London See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,786,512, 23 August 1981, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$30,565,292

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$60,565,292
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (heavily cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS (re-release)| Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Landis stated about Elmer Bernstien writing the score as "a big, bombastic, frightening piece of music". See more »

Goofs

When Doctor Hirsch is reading the newspaper about the murders, the first paragraphs of the news story relate to the murders, but the following paragraphs (in smaller font) relate to a completely different story (demonstrations by the New National Front). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Truck Driver: That way is Proctor, and over here is the moors. I go this way.
Jack: Thanks for the ride, sir. You have lovely sheep.
Truck Driver: Boys, keep off the moors, stick to the roads. The best to ya...
David: Thanks again.
[then to the sheep]
David: We'll miss you.
David: Bye girls...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy star as themselves. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 54th Annual Academy Awards (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Santa Lucia
(uncredited)
Traditional
Transcribed and Arranged by Teodoro Cottrau
Performed by Griffin Dunne and David Naughton
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
both entertaining as a technical marvel, as comedy, and even as horror
25 September 2006 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

John Landis has one of his most memorable films, as it challenges him as a director of comedy and horror, and he's rarely done better in the latter. While many of his best films are among the comedies that he directed for SNL alumni Belushi and Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, An American Werewolf in London stands apart from those by casting David Naughton, Jenny Aguter, and Griffin Dunne in the parts- all practically unknowns then- and giving them some of the best kinds of genre roles imaginable. The two friends played by Naughton and Dunne are out on vacation, sort of, and they stumble upon a town loaded with superstition about wolves and other things. When Dunne gets killed and something, uh, peculiar happens to Naughton, it changes both of them- principally because Naughton keeps seeing Dunne, deteriorating throughout the rest of the film, even as he both turns into the werewolf ("Beware the moon, David, beware the moon") and falls for a kind nurse played by Aguter. All three roles are realized well, though it might be prudent to put a lot of good will on the male leads, as they both go under Rick Baker's still show-stopping make-up jobs.

This is the kind of production that could go in a few different directions, and for someone like Landis's skills it could've gone in those directions, either one, considering his background. It could have been a send-up much like his Kentucky Fried Movie. It could have been just dumb, pure camp like one of his lesser comedies of the 90s. But here he's really sticking to his guns to make it really believably scary, but also with a sly, coarse, and crude sense of humor about it. It's almost in tune to what would come a few years later with Ghostbusters, only without the mega-wit and overall mainstream appeal. It's a cult item that probably isn't seen by many as Landis's other films, yet I still remember things very well from the film years later, indelible things like the use of songs (obvious, sure, by 'moon' being all over the place, but everything from Van Morrison to CCR to the main Blue Moon theme used during the crossover are really dead-perfect for what's needed). Aside from the obvious make-up scenes, I remember being both freaked and delighted by the undead exchanges with David, especially when it finally reaches its purest absurdity in the movie theater scene.

And even the ending, unlike other Landis films, is with a tinge of tragedy and sadness. This is not the ending a typical comedy director would bring, as by now we've really gotten on the side of David, the scorned protagonist turned bloody villain by way of a curse. Some of the scenes that end up cutting back to the old rural village, as I also remember it, were not my favorite scenes as they brought more of the superstitious stuff that is not necessarily needed. It's the bits with Naughton, with Dunne, and even with the lady of the film that make it worthwhile. It's fun but not too goofy or bad B-movie-like, and it's scary without being cheap. It's basically the finest synthesis yet from the filmmaker to combine his gory theatrics with his firm, cool sense of humor. It's also one of my favorite films of 1981.


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